Commissioning is often cited as one of the most useful ways to incorporate green building techniques into commercial real estate, but, like many industry standards or practices, can seem dense and difficult to understand for the uninitiated. However, because it is so important in modern building construction and renovation, it’s worth delving into what commissioning is and how it can help you get the most out of a building project.
What is Commissioning?
Commissioning, according to California’s Department of General Services, is the process of optimizing energy performance, whether through retrofitting an older structure or ensuring that a new, modern building incorporates the most useful and energy-efficient techniques and equipment in its construction and maintenance. In many ways, it is essentially a more detailed and meticulous analysis of a building’s energy weaknesses and systems efficiency, designed to find and solve any issues and ensure that energy is not wasted.
Benefits of Commissioning?
- Save Energy
- Save Money
- Extend equipment life
- Understand what retrofits or improvements are valuable to your building or project and know their exact ROI
- Understand what retrofits or improvements are not needed at your building or project
- Get ownership to sign off on wanted/needed retrofits or improvements at your building
- Improve indoor air quality
How is Commissioning Performed?
Commissioning is performed by someone who is highly trained in systems analysis and who possesses a thorough understanding of the project and of the needs of the building. Commissioning takes into account the needs of the building to ensure it meets its design intent. The commissioning audit runs through all the building’s major and minor systems in a systematic way, covering HVAC, lighting, water, security, fire, and safety systems, considering their design and presenting the information needed for the building owner to incorporate energy efficient equipment and policies into the building maintenance.
Can Commissioning be Performed on Existing Buildings?
Absolutely! Commissioning is particularly useful for new construction, providing data to assist the owner in choosing the best options for energy efficiency, indoor air quality, extended systems life and reduced costs. However, older and renovated buildings can also benefit from the same sort of systematic analysis called “retro-commissioning”. In an existing building, retro-commissioning, the audit of the building also includes discussions with personnel who work in the facility as well as careful analysis of past utility bills. Armed with this data, the building owner can then make informed decisions about the building equipment and systems, and decide how best to leverage the valuable resources and findings provided by the retro-commissioning analysis of the project. Often times, a buildings designed set points of operation get changed from their original settings over the course of daily operation changes over several years. When this happens, retro-commissioning can prove to have more benefits than the benefits of commissioning a new project or new building.
The Power of Commissioning
Particularly in a world where tight budgets and schedules dominate commercial real estate construction and design, commissioning is a powerful tool that equips building owners and managers with the tools necessary to design a useful, long-lasting, and efficient structure. Whether the building already exists or the project is only in its infancy, hiring a skilled and highly trained expert in commissioning can provide great utility, not only resulting in lower utility bills and longer-lasting systems, but the peace of mind knowing that the data backs up the decisions made throughout the process. After all, knowledge is power, and commissioning puts that power in the hands of the decision-maker responsible for the building or project. This knowledge proves to be one of the biggest benefits of commissioning.
Sustainable Investment Group (SIG) highly values its commitment to doing its part to build a more sustainable future, both through the benefits of commissioning new and existing buildings, but also in our other services we offer. Our invaluable experience on over 400 LEED projects with a combined square footage of more than 50 million square feet gives your project that extra advantage when it comes to energy efficiency and sustainable operation. Our three main services are LEED Exam Prep Training, Engineering Services (including commissioning and retro-commissioning), and LEED Consulting. We are willing to travel domestically and internationally, having taught classes as far as Hawaii and beyond. Contact us today to see how Sustainable Investment Group can work for you.
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